Jadzia stood at the second level of the balcony on the Promenade, while looking down and fervently hoping that Lenara wouldn't show up as her brother and Dr. Pren had done a few moments before with Lt. Cmdr. Worf: after a few words with the imposing Klingon, both scientists had left for the shuttle.
Lenara appeared a few minutes later, her bag on her right shoulder, a little nervous. She approached the airlock and the Strategic Operation Officer of DS9, paused for a moment and then turned around, casting one lingering look at Dax before following her colleagues on their tracks, almost running away.
Jadzia closed her eyes. She couldn’t believe that Lenara decided to leave her behind and to return to Trillius Prime, afraid of what the consequences of their decision could have been if they had stayed together and gave a try to their relationship and feelings. But there she is: alone, left by the only person she really loved and cared about.
After a little while, wiping out the tears from her face, she took a deep breath and walked away from the balcony, not noticing at all what was happening on the lower levels and heading towards the holodecks: perhaps a little exercise would help her get through the hell she was living.
On the shuttle, Bejal Otner and Hanor Pren were waiting for Dr. Kahn to arrive while they were talking to each other. Both of them were quite satisfied about the results offered by the tests their team had obtained during their stay to the Federation base, although both men were eager to return to Trill for many reasons, one of them the dangerous reconnection between Jadzia Dax and their team leader: the Trill law wouldn’t permit it, stripping both women of their privileges and stranding them from their homeworld and their families for good, as well as let their symbionts die.
The two scientists looked up when their colleague finally joined them in the shuttle, sitting beside them without a word: she was clearly tense, her figure trembling, her hands clasped on her lap. She was clearly not happy to return home and leave for good Deep Space Nine and Lt. Cmdr. Dax, regardless of the consequences that decision surely would have on her… their future.
«Lenara, I’m sorry...» tried Bejal, but the joined Trill silenced him with a mere look and few words, «Don’t you dare speak, brother: you’ve done enough damage...», after which she lowered her head, putting it on her hands while silent tears flowed from her eyes. Bejal, for once, was speechless. When he looked at his colleague, the other scientist merely shrugged before taking a PADD from his backpack: a few minutes later, the transport ship for Trillius Prime left Deep Space Nine.
A few days passed. Since Dr. Kahn’s departure, Lt. Cmdr. Dax had withdrawn into herself and no one was able to seriously reach her, although Captain Sisko, Doctor Bashir or Major Kira had spared no effort in this regard: the Trill Chief Science Officer of Deep Space Nine punctually took service every morning, but was rarely seen around after her shift, prompting concern among her colleagues and dearest friends.
Two weeks later, for the Bajoran Gratitude Festival, a transport ship docked at Deep Space Nine: between the passengers, there was Dr. Lenara Kahn. Major Kira, who was walking through the lower level of the Promenade talking with Constable Odo about some new security protocols required by Captain Sisko for the base station, was the first of the couple who spotted her: grabbing the shapeshifter by an arm, she walked towards the woman with a steady pace, Odo following her with resignation.
«Dr. Kahn!» exclaimed, excited, the Bajoran officer when she and the Constable were within voice range in the crowd of people populating that part of the Promenade in those hours of the morning.
«What are you doing here? We thought you left the DS9 for good...» continued the Major, before Odo interjected, a little exasperated: «Come, now, Major… is this the way to welcome back aboard the Doctor?». Then, to Lenara: «Welcome back, Doctor Kahn. To what do we owe your return to Deep Space Nine? From what I’ve been told, the experiments on the artificial wormholes were concluded a couple of weeks ago, after the incident with the Defiant...»
«More or less, yes. We’ve collected a fair amount of data last time I was there, but… I’m not here for my research, this time. I’m here to remain…»
«What the hell...?!?» Major Kira was surprised, to say the least. In the last few weeks, Jadzia had become a shadow of her former self: even Quark, who usually cared much more about his own income than about the problems of others, had been particularly interested and concerned about the condition of the Trill Science Officer, with whom he was strangely friends.
Before anyone could say anything else, Sisko’s voice filled the air from the comm-badge affixed to Kira’s chest: «Major, please report to my office: there’s something you need to see». At that, Kira answered with a brisk «On my way» before complying, but a hand on her shoulder and the voice of Dr. Kahn stopped her: Major...is that possible that you’ll let me go with you? I need to talk to Captain Sisko, perhaps he could help me...»
«Help you?» asked the Major, while the two women left Odo near the airlock from which the Trill boarded the station and walked to the near turbolift.
«Yes, help me...» explained the Trill scientist, following the Bajoran, «As I said before, I’m here to remain, Major. I’m not going back to Trillius Prime… for good». The other woman looked at her, while both of them were waiting for an available turbolift to pick them up for Ops and, then, Sisko’s office: «My question is the same, Doctor: why wouldn't you go back to Trill for good? You departed from Deep Space Nine about two weeks ago with your brother and Dr. Pren and all of us thought we would never see you again… after all you decided to leave behind Jadzia, didn’t you?»
«I didn’t really want to, Major...» Lenara was brutally interrupted by Kira: «But you left, Doctor. And in the last couple of weeks Jadzia wasn’t herself because of that: we barely see her during the Alpha shift, but when her watch is over, she vanishes...»
In that moment, the turbolift reached them and both women entered, with Kira that ordered the computer to conduct them to Ops. Lenara gave a regretful look at Kira: «Trust me, Major, when I say that it wasn’t my intention to leave the station or Jadzia. Especially Jadzia. As soon as we reached Trillius Prime, I had made my final decision: although my brother wasn’t particularly happy about that, he understood that the only way I was going to be happy would be if I returned to Deep Space Nine and Dax… So he helped me pack my things and after I quit my job at the Science Institute of Trill, I booked a passage on the first transporter for DS9 and now here I am… I’m pretty sure that the Symbiosis Commission will not be pleased about that, by the way.»
«What changed your mind, exactly?» asked Kira, doubtful.
«In a matter of fact, nothing changed my mind Major...» observed Lenara, continuing: «During the returning trip to Trill I happened upon the perfume Jadzia gave me after the accident aboard the Defiant: in that moment I realized that it wasn’t completely my brother responsibility if I were on that passenger transport: it was mine as well. I wanted so badly to remain with Dax, but at the same time so afraid that I simply took the simpler choice: leave and, for that, blame only Bejal and his bigotry when I could simply decide to stay.»
«So… let me get this stride, Doctor… are you really ready to undertake this difficult journey? Because Dax was ready… If and when you two could have the chance to talk again about that, you really need to explain yourself to her and let her understand what your reasons were.»
«I am willing to do so» was the only answer that Lenara could give her companion.
When they arrived, Chief O’Brien was the first who spotted them and, although surprised, didn’t say a word, merely nodding towards Sisko’s office: while the two women walked through the Operation Center, he discreetly sent a message to Bashir before returning to work.
«Enter» called Sisko when he heard the chime of his door office asking admittance for Major Kira: Jadzia Dax, his senior Science Officer and one of his oldest friends, was with him. The woman was in a pretty bad shape, her face a little slightly excavated and pale, her slender figure thinner and more diaphanous following the departure of Dr. Kahn from Deep Space Nine.
When the Bajoran and the Trill scientist entered the room, both Sisko and Dax stood up in surprise: neither of them was expecting the woman to ever come back after what had happened a few weeks before. If Sisko, now fully on his feet, stiffened and put his hands behind his back, saying «I wasn’t aware we were expecting guests, Major», Jadzia remained completely speechless and took a few steps back, as to give more space to Lenara.
Then, after the Major could mumble an answer to the question offered by their commanding officer, she asked: «Ben, can I go? We could continue our conversation in another moment...». Before Sisko could answer her, Lenara interjected: «Please, Jadzia… remain here, I need to talk with you also, not only with your Captain.»
A brief, tense silence followed before Major Kira stepped in and asked of Sisko: «Did you want to see me, Captain?»
«Yes, in a matter of fact I did», answered Sisko, «But right now I’m more interested in the presence of Doctor Kahn aboard DS9 than anything else: what are you doing here, Doctor?»
«I’m here to ask your help, Captain» answered the Trill scientist, who then explained what she had told just a few minutes before to Major Kira, although not all of it: there were things she needed to talk with Jadzia and only with her. «I was hoping», finished the Trill scientist, «to stay and have the opportunity to work as a civilian contractor for the Science department...».
Lenara was interrupted by Captain Sisko, who observed: «There are no doubts that your expertise would be of great help in understanding wormholes, whether natural or artificial, but what I really wonder is... why, Doctor?»
«That is an interesting question, in a matter of fact» interjected Dax, adding: «Why are you so eager to leave Trill, your colleagues, your career, your whole life to be there?»
While the conversation unfolded in front of her, Kira remained in silence and studied with particular interest her friend, Jadzia: the woman had particularly stiffened since Lenara had asked her to remain with them and Sisko had done nothing to let her escape what the Science Officer could see as a cage. For her part, Kira thought that Dax needed to confront Lenara sooner than later, and that both her and the civilian scientist were lucky to have bumped into each other so suddenly and without prior notice. In that manner, the two of them would have the opportunity to talk to each other without stalling.
Returning her attention to the conversation, she heard Lenara, after a few seconds of silence, answered the questions she was asked: «I must admit… I never wanted to leave DS9.»
At that, there was an exchange of perplexed looks between Sisko and Dax, while Kira listened carefully, before the first observed: «Let’s be very clear: I wouldn’t have any problems approving your transfer and finding you a job aboard the station and, in fact, we need people like you here. However, you are one of the most qualified scientists in the field of artificial wormholes, and the Trill Institute of Science is one of the best equipped facilities for conducting such experiments… right now, what I keep asking myself is a simple question: why?»
While waiting for the answer that Lenara would give them, Jadzia tensed a bit more, not really sure if she wanted to hear that: «Well, I can’t deny that working so close to a stable and natural wormhole is quite an opportunity for me. But it isn’t the only reason… The real reason is another matter.»
Jadzia raised an eyebrow, as she was asking what Kahn was talking about. Lenara looked at her, then, before adding, with a peculiar intensity in her eyes: «Jadzia, I love you. I haven’t had the chance to tell you so two weeks ago, although I wanted so badly to do so. Can you ever forgive me? And will you have me?»
Before anyone could say anything else, Sisko interjected with a «Why don’t you two have a talk on your own? In the meanwhile, I’ll ponder your proposal, Dr. Kahn, although right now I can’t give you a positive or negative answer: there are things you really need to discuss with Commander Dax.»
Then, looking at Jadzia: «May I suggest you, Old Man, to take this conversation somewhere… else… than my office? I’m sure Major Kira agrees with me about giving you a couple of days free: you have earned them and you really need a little decompression.»
The two women had no choice but to leave the office: it was clear that Sisko had just dismissed them. When the doors closed behind them, Sisko and Kira exchanged a meaningful look before the latter asked: «Are we sure that, this time, they don’t screw it up?»
«I really hope not. I’m not so sure if I could endure looking at Jadzia and the way she is treating herself since Lenara left. I really hope both of them will be able to fix this.»
With that, the two officers busied themself with the reason of Sisko’s previous call.
A few days later, after long and difficult conversations between Jadzia and Lenara and with a Counselor, the two of them finally moved in together, although only time would heal their wounds. For his part, Captain Sisko had managed to get everything he needed to permit Doctor Kahn to conduct her research aboard Deep Space Nine as a civilian contractor.
Jadzia slowly returned to her older self, especially thanks to the presence of Lenara Kahn on her side. Although both of them were exiled from Trill, neither of them seemed to suffer particularly about their condition: Lenara quickly befriended some of the officers and of the civilians who lived on the base and often you could see the Trill scientist in the company of one or more of Jadzia’s friends, who had readily accepted her. All of them were happy to see their colleague and friend returned to life and happy about being with Lenara.
One afternoon, Lenara and Jadzia descended the spiral staircase that led to one of the holosuites in Quark’s, each of them holding a bath’leth. Between the two of them, Jadzia seemed to be the one most comfortable in holding the extremely dangerous klingon sword, while Lenara seemed unable to find a way to carry it without jamming the blade into the staircase on the way down. Waiting for the two, definitely bored and by now on his third cup of Tarkalean tea, was Doctor Bashir, perched on a stool and uncomfortably leaning against the bar counter.
«Well, well, well… finally you are there. I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes for you to come out of the holosuite,» scoffed Bashir, standing up and leaving behind his glass, «What took you so long?»
«Sorry,» answered Jadzia while smiling at Lenara, «we’ve lost track of time.» She offered the chip with the holoprogram to Quark.
«You surely did,» joked Lenara before looking at Bashir, rubbing a shoulder: «I think I’ll need your medical expertise.»
«Really?» smiled Bashir. «I don’t see any bruises or broken bones...»
«Are you really sure, Doctor?» retorted Lenara.
«Need I remind you that the house will not be liable for damage to property or persons and that there are no liability claims?» asked nervously Quark.
Jadzia smirked to the Ferengi, approaching winking at the lobes of his big ears: «Do not worry, surely we won’t.» «Perhaps you really should reduce your exercises,» continued the Doctor, «because Jadzia, if you are much better at this sort of thing, Lenara on her part…». The Trill scientist stopped him with a large smile, although he words were for Jadzia: «I admit that I don’t understand your fierce passion for the Klingon and for this kind of activity, but I presume I’m going to have to get used to it, am I not?»
With that, she didn’t lose the chance to kiss her beloved on her lips, under the amused gaze of Julian. Then, the two of them left the bar hand in hand.
Quark sighed: «Ah, love…!!»
Bashir poked him gently: «It’s without price, isn’t it?».
«Never!» agreed the Ferengi, shaking his head.